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A Pomegranate-Studded Olive Relish to Put on Everything

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With her new book, Emily Kaiser Thelin set out to honor Paula Wolfert, the innovative cook who championed Mediterranean and Middle Eastern flavors in the American kitchen. A food writer and editor herself, Kaiser Thelin sought a way to bring attention to the woman—and career—she had spent years admiring and editing as Wolfert’s editor at Food and Wine. What she produced was a tome, a testament, a 50+ recipe tribute to the kitchen legend. She aptly named the cookbook and biography Unforgettable: The Bold Flavors of Paula Wolfert's Renegade Life.

Who Is Paula Wolfert? A New Biography Gives an Answer
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Who Is Paula Wolfert? A New Biography Gives an Answer

The book initially arrived in bookstores in March, but an October re-release features a foreword by Alice Waters, a similarly curious and vanguard chef in her own right. Waters pens a moving tribute to the cook who she says was able to circumvent trend and think about food in the way it should be cooked, served, and eaten. In honor of Paula Wolfert and Unforgettable’s second release, we tested one of the book’s recipes: the cracked olive, walnut and pomegranate relish. Its earth-toned ingredients promised the comfort and tang much needed in fall’s cool exhale. The months ahead promise no shortage of gatherings, and be they small or large, this dish proves a reliable party guest.

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The book's revised cover, with a foreword by Alice Waters.
The book's revised cover, with a foreword by Alice Waters.

Wolfert was known for her intrepid travels and fervent commitment to the ingredients she brought back with her. She culled this relish recipe from a Turkish friend and food journalist, Ayfer Ünsal. Pomegranate molasses, an ingredient she had to coax into American kitchens, laces each element, drawing them together with a sticky sweetness. We spread the relish across crusty loaves of bread, but Wolfert recommends eating it alongside fish or meat, or even melon.

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Paula Wolfert's Cracked Green Olive, Walnut, and Pomegranate Relish

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Serves 4 to 6 as a mere or side dish.
  • 8 ounces cracked green olives, pitted, rinsed, and coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 cup walnuts, finely chopped by hand
  • 2 green onions, white and light green parts, minced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/8 teaspoon mild red pepper flakes, preferably Aleppo or Marash, or more to taste
  • 2 teaspoons pomegranate concentrate or molasses
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup fresh or thawed frozen pomegranate seeds
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Tags: paula wolfert, holidays, dips, spread, mediterranean